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Five things to consider before moving office

March 20, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five things to consider before moving office/Businesswoman unpacking cartons in office{{}}Are you currently considering whether to move into a new office or are you constantly weighing up the pros and cons of your current location? Before making a move, here are five things to think about.

1 Space

Sitting on your colleagues’ laps may be fun for the first 30 minutes, however, after a while the lack of personal space becomes tedious and it can cramp creativity. Lack of space is often the primary motive for many companies that decide to move. However, choosing the right space is crucial for your future success. Only increase a little and you risk having to go through the whole rigmarole of moving again very shortly, but increase too much and you could land yourself with a monthly bill you’re unable to pay.

2 Resources

Is your internet slower than an asthmatic snail with a bad back? If so, moving to another office with a high-speed connection may provide just the boost you need. For the vast majority of companies, strong, reliable internet is essential, and for many, a poor connection is more than just annoying, it can also cost you money. However, a good internet connection is not the only resource businesses require and many move because of better meeting room facilities, access to parking or even a nicer kitchen.

3 Location, location, location

As TV’s Kirstie and Phil constantly remind us, the key to any successful move is location, location, location. Currently, you may be in what you believe to be the perfect office, however, if it’s in the middle of nowhere and makes your staff’s daily commute impossibly long, it may be time for a change. A business can be made or broken purely on the choice of its location, so choosing the right spot is essential.

4 Great minds think alike

It’s a well-known fact that businesses in a similar sector often converge in similar locations. Moving to an area where you can meet, interact and network with like-minded businesses could prove a fantastic opportunity for you and could potentially open up many new avenues for your business.

5 Is there an alternative?

Technology is changing the way we do business, as is the way we think about office space. Flexible office space has become increasingly popular over the past decade, bringing quality space and high-end tech together in a simple monthly package. Ranging from hot desks to business centres, these hubs now attract start-ups and more established businesses. With many businesses still feeling the pinch, this cost-effective alternative could also prove a useful stepping stone to bigger things. So ask yourself if you really need to take a traditional approach or could your team take advantage of the flexible business hubs that continue to spring up in cities across the UK?

Blog supplied by LondonOffices.com.

Further reading

Posted in Business premises | Tagged Premises | 0 comments

Budget 2014: Twitter has its say

March 19, 2014 by Mark Williams

The Start Up Donut and Tax Donut were busy this afternoon Tweeting the main announcements from today's budget. But elsewhere in Twitterland, this is how Twitter reacted to announcements made in the Chancellor’s #Budget2014 speech...

THE ECONOMY

What the Chancellor announced: Deficit forecast to be 6.6% of GDP this year, 5.5% in 2014-15, falling to 0.8% by 2017-18 with a surplus of 0.2% in 2018-19. UK GDP forecast to grow by 2.7% this year. Borrowing forecast to be £108bn this year and £95bn next year, leading to a surplus of almost £5bn in 2018-19.

What you said:

@mehdirhasan - Osborne mentions that the deficit is down by a third. But still almost double what he said it'd be back in 2010. #austerity #budget2014

@SkyNewsBreak ‏- Chancellor George Osborne says "we are putting Britain right" and the economy is recovering faster than forecast #Budget2014

@RBSBusiness ‏- #Budget2014 is about building a resilient economy and security for the British public

@FraserNelson‏ - “We're getting on top of our debts” says Osborne. As if. Debt getting on top of us. #Budget2014 pic.twitter.com/xveVxJ5R9l

@jrfKathleen - 2.7% growth forecast from OBR for 2014  #budget2014 > wonder what BoE will do with interest rates, following Carney's strong hints?

‏@labourpress - Growth in 2014 still lower than OBR was forecasting in November 2010 (2.7% versus 2.8%) #Budget2014

THE RECOVERY

What the Chancellor announced: Official forecasts for UK economic growth have been raised for the next two years but cut for later years. UK GDP forecast to grow by 2.7% this year, 2.3% next year, 2.6% in 2016 and 2017 and by 2.5% in 2018. Today it was announced that the unemployed figure fell by 63,000 to 2.33m in the three months to January 2014.

What you said:

 @RichardJMurphy - Don't crow about jobs Osborne: most will be self-employed earning £11,000 or less #budget2014

‏@stuart_rock - Faster growth alone will not balance the books #Budget2014

@RigelAcctsTax - We'll be in surplus by 2018/19 - really??!!  I'll be very impressed if that comes true #budget2014

@sophiehobson - Osborne's most shouted-at statement so far: "Rich are making the biggest contribution the reduction of the deficit" #Budget2014

@MichaelWhite - #Budget2014  "income inequality the lowest for 28 years " says GO. That cannot possibly be true in any meaningful sense

@lucianaberger - No action from Osborne to actually fix our broken energy market. He needs to #freezethatbill #budget2014

TAX CHANGES

What the Chancellor announced: Corporation main and small business rates will be aligned at 20% from April 2015. New 30% tax relief for social enterprises. Doubling of the 100% Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) from £250,000 to £500,000 from the end of next month. Scheme also extended until 2015. R&D tax credits for small, loss-making businesses increased from 11% to 14.5%. No fuel duty rise in September. Personal allowance increased to £10,500 from April 2015; 1% increase in higher rate threshold in 2015 to £42,285. Class 2 NICs to be merged with self-assessment.

What you said:

 @RichardJMurphy - It sounds as if there are some welcome moves on avoidance – but the devil will be in the detail #budget2014

@nickknocker1 - Class 2 NICs to move to Self Assessment. About time. #Budget2014

@JONATHAN_RILE - #Budget2014 #gtbudget Tax simplification well overdue. Recommendation from OTS accepted

@accountancyEdge - AIA goes up to £500k. Not many small businesses spend £250k a year, never mind double... #Budget2014

@langbennetts - Annual Investment Allowance of £250k no longer set to expire but increases to £500,000 – a massive help to small businesses #budget2014

@CBItweets - “Doubling & extension of Annual Investment Allowance will be shot in the arm for many mid-sized firms"

‏@JournoSpursEmma - Income tax threshold up to £10,500. Oooh. Fair play Osborne that's a good one #Budget2014

@GlobalAccWeb - PTA will rise to £10,500 = £800 less tax paid each year  #Budget2014

‏@lexauto_SME - Good to hear the freeze on fuel duty will remain in place, which will help businesses manage their costs #Budget2014 #SMEbudget

@ICAEW - Personal allowances for taxpayers to be aligned at £10,500 from 2015. Tax simplification will make this good news better. ^Anita #Budget2014

@LibDemBen - £10,500 tax-free threshold from next year! #Budget2014 It wouldn't have happened without the @LibDems in Government” Hear Hear!

@ConnectedRoots‏ - And there it is folks, what we hinted at a month ago, a 30% tax break for those who invest in Soc Ents. #Budget2014

APPRENTICESHIP GRANTS

What the Chancellor announced: Extension of grants available to businesses, to increase the number of apprenticeships by 100,000. Development of graduate-level apprenticeships.

What you said:

 @enforbusiness - Extend grants for smaller businesses to support 100,000 more apprentices #Budget2014

@CNKatieBarker - Doubled the number of apprenticeships – new degree level apprenticeships too. Maybe Osborne read my article on apprentices?! #Budget2014

‏@john_hocking - Increase in apprenticeships need to make sure these lead to skilled jobs #yorkreacts #budget2014

@The_FPB - #Budget2014 extension to AGE grants for apprenticeships, a key FPB ask for this year's Budget. Thanks!

AND FINALLY

‏@Alex_Kitching - FTSE only marginally down post #Budget2014

@CBItweets - Cridland: “The Budget will put wind in the sails of business investment, especially for manufacturers." #Budget2014

‏@IoD_press - Announcements on export finance and cut in Air Passenger Duty very welcome for UK exporters #budget2014

@FT - UK #Budget2014: Osborne is tinkering at the margins

@emmaljones - Not much good for majority of small business who are micro enterprises .. the doers & makers

2014 Budget round up

March 19, 2014 by Fiona Prior

The Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered his Budget Statement today. The recent decidedly spring-like weather reflects the brightening economic picture — the Office for National Statistics recently announced that UK GDP grew by 0.7% in the final quarter of 2013 and 1.8% in 2013. But should we worry that forecasts predict another cold snap?

Certainly, the optimistic outlook isn’t shared by all. The Bank of England remains cautious about the recovery, voting unanimously to hold the base rate at 0.5%. Minutes from their meeting state, "There were initial signs that the anticipated broadening from household to business spending might have already begun. Even so, there remained some way to go to ensure that the recovery was both balanced and sustainable."

With this mixed picture, The Chancellor undoubtedly had a challenge on his hands to convince businesses and the public alike that the corner has been turned. So what were his main headline announcements?

Company taxation:

  • Corporation tax: Confirmation that corporation main and small business rates will be aligned at 20% from April 2015
  • Tax transfers: There will be a block on transfers of profits between companies to prevent tax avoidance
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax: The existing 15% SDLT on residential properties purchased by corporate entities will be extended at midnight tonight to properties over £500,000 (previously £2 million)
  • Company car tax: 2% increase in company car tax in 2017/18 and 2018/19 and a reduction in tax on low-emission cars
  • Social enterprises: New 30% tax relief for social enterprises
  • Annual Investment Allowance: Doubling of the 100% AIA from £250,000 to £500,000 from the end of next month. Scheme also extended until 2015
  • North Sea Oil: Introduction of a new allowance for Ultra High Pressure, High Temperature clusters
  • Enterprise zones: Current business rate discounts and enhanced capital allowances in enterprise zones extended for a further three years. New enterprise zone announced for Northern Ireland
  • R&D tax credits: Tax credits for small, loss-making businesses increased from 11% to 14.5%
  • Energy: Extension of the scheme to support energy-intensive industries until 2019-20
  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme: This scheme has been made permanent
  • VAT: Relief for ambulances and life boats on the costs of VAT on fuel

Help for businesses:

  • Export: Doubling of the export finance available to businesses to £3 billion. The costs of borrowing to be cut by a third
  • Apprenticeships: Extension of the grants available to businesses to increase the number of apprenticeships by another 100,000. Development of graduate level apprenticeships

Infrastructure:

  • Investment: There will be £270 million for the Mersey Gateway Bridge; an additional £140 million to repair damaged flood defences; £200 million for road repairs
  • Construction: Extension of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme to support the building of an additional 120,000 new homes by 2020

Duties:

  • Fuel duty: The planned September rise in duty has been scrapped
  • Air Passenger Duty: All long-haul flights will be subject to the same rate of APD from April 2015
  • Tobacco duty: 2% rise above inflation
  • Alcohol duty: Escalator scrapped. Freeze on duty on whiskey, cider and spirits. Duty on beer cut by 1p

Personal taxation:

  • Income tax: Personal allowance to be increased to £10,500 in April 2015. 1% increase in higher rate threshold in 2015 to £42,285
  • National Insurance: Class 2 NICs to be merged with self assessment from April 2016
  • Personal pensions reforms from 27 March 2014: The amount of guaranteed income a pensioner will need in order to access their savings flexibly will be reduced; the total amount that can be taken as a lump sum and the maximum size of small pension pot that can be taken as a lump sum will be increased and the capped drawdown withdrawal limit will increase to 150% of an equivalent annuity
  • Personal pensions reforms in 2015: All tax restrictions on how pensioners access their pensions and the requirement to buy an annuity will be removed. There will be no limits on how much can be drawn down. 25% of pension pots can be taken tax free. Remaining balances will be subject to normal, marginal rates instead of the current 55%. Free, impartial advice for all pensioners on getting the most out of their personal pension
  • Personal savings: Introduction of a new, combined ISA from July this year. Increased tax-free ISA savings limit to £15,000. Increased savings limit for Junior ISAs to £4,000. Increased premium bond allowances from £30,000 to £40,000 this June and a further increase to £50,000 in 2015
  • Tax relief for savers: 10p rate of tax for savers abolished
  • Inheritance tax: IHT will be waived for any emergency service worker who dies in the course of duty

Families:

  • Tax-free child care: Working parents with children under 12 will benefit from 20% support on childcare costs (up to £2,000 per child per year) from Autumn 2015. The scheme will also support the self-employed and any worker earning over £50 per week

So where did small businesses figure in Mr Osborne’s thinking?

March 19, 2014 by Liz Dawe

So where did small businesses figure in Mr Osborne’s thinking? {{}}

Personal, yes. Political, certainly. Business focused? Not that I noticed.

Like much of the country, we’ve been glued to the Budget today wondering if there’ll be any surprises from George Osborne. As publishers of the Donut websites, we’re always particularly interested in what the Budget means for small businesses.

Mostly, the Budget came across as being a feel-good one, with an eye to individuals. The saver, the pensioner, the tax payer all have cause to feel uplifted by the Budget. Those pension pots that have hitherto been locked behind measly annuity schemes, unless you want to pay punitive tax levels to draw them down, suddenly seem within shiny reach at only a basic level of tax.

Those people, and no, I’m not one of them, with a spare £15,000 per year to squirrel away will now be able to put it all into tax efficient ISAs. The personal tax allowance increase actually puts more real cash into a lot of pockets. Families could breathe a little more easily with transferable tax benefits and childcare allowances. Companies with up to £500,000 to invest in developing their business could also do well.

The continuing help for first-time buyers and the promised increase in housing stock is good news for associated companies including removals firms (who also benefit from reduced fuel duty), the construction industry and conveyancers.

So much for individuals and big businesses. But most micro-businesses and start-ups, who were singled out for attention in last year’s Autumn Statement, would still be straining to hear themselves mentioned.

Arguably, any Budget that makes people feel more optimistic and actually changes the amount of cash they have to spend, from tax cuts or accessible pension pots, will boost the recovering economy. And that, in turn, is good news for small businesses. It also, of course, won’t do any political harm to the Coalition.

Personally, I thought the tweet from Norman Smith, chief political correspondent at the BBC News Channelsummed it up nicely: "Booze, Bingo, Business and Savers. That's your #Budget2014 Folks."

Eight reasons to use a phone rather than send an email or message

March 17, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Eight reasons to use a phone rather than send an email or message/Hand holding telephone{{}}In the past 20 years, methods of communication have increased significantly. Technology is continually developing new ways of contacting friends, family, those we work with, suppliers, customers and others.

With the advent of email, Skype, Hangouts, IMing and Facetime, businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to contacting customers and others, and often overlook the power of the humble phone call. So what advantages does using a telephone offer?

1 Telephones are more personal

While email and instant messages are often sent while the sender is multi-tasking, telephoning someone requires taking time out of your day to stop and make the call. This shows more care, demonstrates more attention and better customer service.

2 Phone calls are often faster

Messages can be conveyed more quickly over the phone than exchanging numerous messages by other means over the course of a day. When an immediate answer is required, a phone call is the best way.

3 Meaning can get lost in translation

The meaning or urgency of a subject can get lost when conveyed by written words, because some things are just more effectively communicated by phone.

4 Everybody knows how to use a phone

It’s often difficult to keep up to date with all new communication methods and ‘who is familiar with what’. Instead of having the difficult conversation about ‘who’s using what’, you can make life simpler by picking up the phone.

5 Telephones are simple

Using technology can often involve technical difficulties. Effective internet communication, using programmes such as Skype and Facetime, require a reliable internet connection, non-faulty equipment and technological know-how. Things can and do go wrong.

6 Phone calls are often more authoritative

Similar to how letters carry more authority, because of the traditional nature of a phone call, it generally holds more weight than an email or an instant message. If you want to communicate an official message, deliver it with your voice.

7 Video calls can be awkward

Sometimes being able to see the person to whom you’re speaking is useful, but more often it’s a hindrance and one extra thing to worry about. Facial expressions can give things away and it can make working from home a little more difficult.

8 International calls are now cheaper

Not long ago, making landline calls to overseas numbers was extremely expensive. However, that no longer needs to be the case, you can make cheap calls to hundreds of other countries for a reasonable price.

Blog supplied by Ruth Barton on behalf of Call Happy, provider of cheap calls to Uganda and worldwide. 

Further reading 

The fundamentals of marketing explained for start-ups

March 13, 2014 by Bryony Thomas

The fundamentals of marketing explained for start-ups{{}}When you’re starting a business from scratch, there’s so much to learn. As the owner, you’re the person who ultimately needs to make a call on your investments, whether that’s product, people, technology, finance, sales, marketing or many other things. So, when it comes to marketing, what are the fundamentals you need to know to make sound decisions to support your growth?

Six key strategic pointers

Marketing helps you sell your products or services. Really effective marketing does this in a sustainable way. Businesses that nail this early on almost without exception outperform those who take a more tactical approach. If you lack basic knowledge of marketing, the following six pointers should keep you on track strategically.

1 Understand how real people really buy things

Effective marketing is about taking someone on a journey from hearing about you to buying from you, and from there, to buying more and telling the world about you. As the business owner, taking the time to understand how your buyers do this will always be a good investment.

Looking at the buying decision from their perspective, ask what they want and need to know, how much time they devote to finding out and whom they ask along the way. If you’re able to picture this, you’re much better equipped to assess whether your marketing tools and techniques will help these people decide to buy from you.

2 Delete the mental image of a ‘sales funnel’

The ‘sales funnel’ image is meant to show the decreasing number of people at each stage in the buying decision, which makes it funnel-shaped. It does not actually behave like a funnel; pouring more into the top is rarely the best sustainable approach for your business.

It can be enormously helpful to replace this picture with one of a bucket (your products and services and how they are delivered), your funnels (those things that support turning interest into sales), and taps (things that grab people’s attention and get them interested in what you do). When you have this picture in mind, you have a much better handle on what a marketing operation really looks like… Yes, it’s a bit messy – and it leaks!

3 Start at the bottom and work up

With this new mental image, you can quickly see why it makes more sense to start at the bottom and work up, because each element builds on the last. So many businesses, particularly start-ups, find themselves running expensive marketing taps into a leaky bucket. You don’t have money to waste – so don’t.

4 Broadly map tools and techniques to each stage of the buying decision

If you can think about each marketing tool or technique in broad terms as related to the bucket, funnels or taps, you’ll be able to quickly assess whether you need it and what function it serves. So, when an ad sales guy, SEO guru or whoever else calls you with an ‘unbeatable deal on awareness-driving activity’, you can ask yourself if you need another tap, and if there are funnels and a bucket for each tap you switch on.

5 Visualise cause and effect of marketing to sales, and the timeframe to results

With all this in mind, the next piece of mental gymnastics is to flip the image horizontally… over time. Over what time frame does the buyer move from hearing about you to becoming a loyal customer? This becomes the shortest possible timeframe in which to see profitable payback on marketing investment, and if you’re measuring things sooner, you might end up stopping an activity that would have paid off handsomely in the long term.

6 Knowing when you don’t know, and when expert skills are needed.

Once you have these fundamentals firmly in mind and you can map your market and your business against it in broad terms, you’ll be much better placed to get the experts you need to put in place an end-to-end marketing operation for your business. But you’ll have enough knowledge to be able to follow and be an integral part of what they are doing.

  • Blog supplied by Bryony Thomas, creator of the Watertight Marketing methodology, explained in her book of the same name.

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